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In appreciation of certain stars.

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"I think I may be beginning to disappear.""It’s mean to say it, but here goes: one of the things that has always fascinated me about the actors of the silent era, especially the sex symbols, is just how plain, ordinary, even ugly, many of them are," writes Kira Cochrane at the Guardian, focusing in on Theda Bara, "the original on-screen vamp." It takes seeing Bara in motion on film (only four of Bara’s film survive) for Cochrane to comprehend her appeal: "On screen, that face comes into its own – so much so that when you learn that her character’s malevolence has led one man to jail, another to beggary, and her most recent victim to a very public suicide, you believe it. Rudolph, eat your heart out."

At the LA Weekly, Ella Taylor writes about (and then talks with) Julie Christie. On seeing her in "Doctor Zhivago": "Though I wasn’t a movie buff and had no thoughts of becoming a film critic, the David Lean epic stirred in me the rudiments of a film sensibility, for that was the night I became dimly aware that even the cheesiest movie can be set on fire by a natural-born star."

Philippa Hawker at The Age looks at Tony Leung:

On screen, no one’s mastered the art of losing better than Tony Leung. Renunciation, disappointment, rejection, betrayal: he has experienced them all. If you concentrate on some of his best-known roles — in In the Mood for Love, Happy Together, Infernal Affairs, Hero — he can look like the patron saint of unrequited love, the epitome of repressed emotion.

Ty Burr at the Boston Globe dwells on Anna Faris and her "knack for being the very best thing in very bad movies":

The new film from writer-director Gregg Araki ("Mysterious Skin") gives the deceptively ditzy actress, 30, a rare leading role as a stoner having an extremely bad day. Even rarer, Faris is allowed to give a full-on comedy performance: rubber-faced, loose-limbed, proudly unsubtle. At times watching the character you can’t help thinking: This is Lucy Ricardo. This is Lucy Ricardo on drugs.

And, for contrast, here’s something from Janet Maslin‘s review of Andrew Morton’s "Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography," which could only be viewed as an appreciation of an actor in the sense that in every dedicated act of provocation is nestled a gem of love:

In the case of Mr. Cruise, Mr. Morton sees a domineering, aggressive character who has joined forces with Scientology to catapult his activities beyond the realm of mere glitter. “More than any star today,” Mr. Morton writes, “Tom” — naturally he’s on a first-name basis — “is a movie messiah who reflects and refracts the fears and doubts of our times, trading on the unfettered power of modern celebrity, our embrace of religious extremism and the unnerving scale of globalization.” The book asserts that “the relentless expansion of the organization and its front groups has been made possible by the charm and persuasiveness of its poster boy, whose modernity, familiarity and friendliness mask the totalitarian zeal of his faith.”

+ If looks could kill (Guardian)
+ Miss Julie (LA Weekly)
+ Forever in the mood for Leung (The Age)
+ The very best thing in some very bad movies (Boston Globe)
+ Tom Cruise and His Bully Pulpit (NY Times)

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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